Tykwer's love for the cinematic arts began at the young age of 11, when he directed his first film with a Super 8 camera. A cinefile seemingly from birth, Tykwer's earliest jobs were at repertory cinemas, where he would lock himself into the theater overnight so that he could repeatedly watch the featured shows without interruption. After a brief stint in the Frankfurt military, Tykwer moved to Berlin to take over programming at the Moviemento Theater.
In 1993, Tykwer made his feature debut with the "Deadly Maria." The dark thriller earned the young director honors from the German Camera Association. He went on to write and direct the romantic feature "Wintersleepers" in 1997, but international recognition for his burgeoning talent would have to wait until the release of "Run Lola Run" in 1999.
"Run Lola Run" introduced the world to Tykwer's artistic eye and it also introduced Tykwer to future love interest, Franka Potente, who would go on to benefit greatly from the film's universal and international appeal. From the film's opening moments, Tykwer took the viewer of "Run Lola Run" on a frantic race through the crowded city streets of Germany, breaking cinematic rules and altering linear time, shifting states of emotion and meaning in the name of breathless forward momentum. The theme of the film is simple: protagonist Lola has only twenty minutes to raise enough cash to save her boyfriend from the unkind hands of local criminals. Tykwer's execution, however, is a multi-layered exploration of causality and coincidence, offering various scenarios in which Lola's task is met with numerous obstacles and completed with varying amounts of success. The film went on to become Tykwer's best to date as well as Germany's top German film of the year. The film's release internationally was just as successful and the film ranks as one of the largest-grossing foreign films to be distributed in the United States.
Set in his hometown, Wuppertal, Tykwer once again returned to the themes of chance and coincidence in his brain-teasing 2001 thriller "The Princess and the Warrior." As metaphysical in content as it is mathematic in structure, the film succeeds as a romantic, if not surreal, fairy tale about a nurse in a mental ward (Franka Potente) whose life is saved by Bodo (Benno Furmann), a criminal on the lam. Scene by scene since their chance encounter, an elaborate thematic equation is built on ever-widening circles of connection between Sisi and Benno that showcase well Tykwer's storytelling skills. More speculative than speedy, Tykwer's follow up to "Run Lola Run" received critical praise though the film's box offices sales were relatively mild.
When Krzysztof Kieslowski died of a heart attack in 1996, he left behind fragments of a project called "Heaven." This final work was meant to be the first part of a trilogy that was to continue with "Hell" and "Purgatory." The script, co-written by his collaborator Krzystof Piesieweicz, was a thriller about a woman named Philippa who is forced to take the law ino her own hands when she is suspected of being part of a terrorist organization. On the lam, she falls in love with Filippo, a police officer who was to be her captor. Though in preproduction with "The Princess and the Warrior" when the script was presented to his film collaborative, X Filme, Tykwer only needed one read-through to know that this would be his next endeavor. Released in 2002, starring Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi, the film's end result is an engaging and visually thrilling melding of two cinematic visions, preserving Kieslowski's rigourous explorations of the human condition in the fresh, passionate and energetic style that is quickly becoming the trademark of a young director on the rise.
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